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“Less”

There’s a great line – one word – spoken by Josh Brolin in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. Shia LeBouf’s character asks (more or less) Brolin’s “how much is enough?”, and Brolin replies “More.” It’s said with such avarice, literally dripping from his lips. So representative of the failure of character: “There is one word that describes what is right about America; that word is greed. There is one word that describes what is wrong with America; that word is greed. There is one word that describes the difference; that word is character. The failure of character. Why???

Because we go in the opposite direction of character. We gravitate towards more… And it is not just more material things. It is the incessant presence and by extension need for more thinking (the curse of over-thinking), more being right, more fear. I stole the idea for this post from Tim Ferriss, who had a TV show called Fear {less}. That’s what I’m interested in here: less.

Just because you think it doesn’t mean it’s true. Our best thinking is a function of just that: our best thinking! The echo chamber of our mind… we lack new information but ironically our filters tend to keep out information that doesn’t align with our existing pattern of interpretation and meaning of information. And so we need, or indulge in, more. The demands of the childish emotional mind, that insidious little storyteller. To think less you have to think less. Or more accurately, think less about the stories that are being foisted upon you and think more about something else. Attentional control – so of course refer to the Weaponized Mindfulness posts. Know for a fact that your brain is telling you stories and they might not be right. They might be propaganda! Cognitive distortions based on your existing pattern and filters. Remember the Anais Nin quote: “We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are.”

The other day I gave myself a headache. I was thinking too much and I knew it. Minal came into my office and noticed my headache face and I explained what was going on. She told me to just stop thinking (I know how to of course. Well, mostly…) and I replied that I didn’t want to but as soon as my next patient arrived I would. My attention would (and did) go fully to her, and the headache went away. I stopped thinking about anything else. Be aware of your “need” to think and learn to allow your mind to sort things out on its own. This is the capability acquired in Stage 3 of the mindfulness program so maybe that’s an incentive to work it. Learn to quiet your mind and you can think slower, with improved clarity and accuracy. As they say on Kilimanjaro: “Pole Pole!” Slow slow. It’s how you get to the top.

An important factor in thinking less is to notice what exactly you think of. Is it useful? Helpful? Or is it more of the same garbage, not germane to anything of value in your life. Once you clear out the clutter of useless thoughts there is a new-found ability to not only have a quiet mind but also to be able to turn it towards something useful and helpful.

“Do you want to be right or do you want to be effective?” A core question of DBT. Most people will either answer “Both!” or if they’re honest will answer “Right!” The need to be right, to have our best thinking validated and even praised, is so ingrained in us. And so divisive. “I’m RIGHT!” “You’re WRONG!” Our childish emotional minds spew endlessly such judgments and clings so tightly to them.

I would suggest that we aspire to being less wrong.

There are few absolutes in this universe, and absolutes by their nature are abstractions. They exist only mathematically or are a function of faith. Yet we, in our best thinking, are so utterly sure of them. Mark Twain said, “What gets us into trouble is not what we don’t know. It’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so.” Nothing is certain until it actually happens, and how we perceive what happened is determined by our filters, our pattern of interpreting and giving meaning to the information. That should sound familiar as I said it earlier in this post. And it will bear repeating until we understand the truth of it. The Nin quote validates it.

When we stop needing to be right we are open to the possibilities of being less wrong, and the abdication of the need to be right. The irony is that when you are open to the possibility of being wrong you increase the likelihood that you’ll learn something and be less wrong. **So I’m being redundant and inelegant. Please help**

One of the reasons we cling so tightly to the need to be right is fear. “What if I’m wrong?!” What if what if what if… The storyteller hard at work, isn’t it? Without going into the roots of fear (an opposite of love) how about just offer the antidote? And that is (drum roll!) Curiosity. The natural opposite to the fearful “what if?!” becomes its opposite – “what if?” and then “We’ll see!” It opens us up to possibilities, perhaps that we have never considered in our best thinking.

One other less that occurs to me is flaw less, to stop finding fault in ourselves or others. Stop blaming, start exploring. In Radically Open DBT we call this self enquiry, checking both the facts of information but of our interpretation and meaning of that information – our emotional response patterns. If we are going on a fault-finding trip the best place to start, in fact the only place to start, is within ourselves. And it is not an emotional blaming but just looking at ourselves as we are, with curiosity and love, in order to become less. Less judgmental, less reactive, less emotionally enslaved. In any conflict we may (probably do) have some responsibility in our own words or actions. Examine them! Not to find fault but facts. How did I contribute to this mess?

The key to less is of course the ability to control your own mind, to choose to think less, to be willing to be less wrong, to be vulnerable enough (ironically) to fear less, and look for flaws less. Radically accept the what is and consider your emotional response to the information, how you interpret and give meaning to it. Be willing to be less.

How it should have been

This is written directly to my friend. As it may or may not apply to you, dear reader, is up to you.

Recently we visited mom in her new home. It was surprisingly nice and she was so thrilled to see us. She’s pretty frail but at 95 I was surprised how hale she is. Hauls butt around with “Johnny Walker.” Her small apartment is packed with over-sized furniture, reflective of her over-sized life; she is “The Jane” after all.

Of course there are hundreds of pictures, all of which I’ve seen many times, but this time I saw them through a different lens, one of what should have been. Pictures of a smiling happy family, mom all done up and stylish, dad dashing and the picture of the provider, kids dressed smartly and beaming. As it should be. At the same time I was aware of the undercurrents that couldn’t be seen, and all of a sudden I saw you and your family. Just the same, happy, smiling, just so. And the same undercurrents unseen, the ones that corrupt day by day, year by year, the image of what should be. It was what we were raised to believe in, the image of rightness, never tinged by sorrow, by pain.

We are so similar in this. Here is where I lived until I was 1264th st

And here is where I always thought I would live, in a proper fashion:

Brookbank

You and I would live here, raise our perfect happy family here and be just so. As we were raised but without the hell of alcohol.

But life had other plans… My dad died when I was fourteen and the wave function of my path collapsed. Your dad died the year before I think. I remember that night. J.B. showed up drunk as a skunk, happy as hell  – although your experience of him was quite different. Dad got him dried off and they took him downtown to the Salvation Army to dry out and then go to rehab. And as they drove off they saw in the rear-view mirror J.B. walking off into the night. The end.

I saw Scott’s memorial slideshow and I saw the same pictures my mom has. Just. The. Same! And I felt such sorrow. You worked so hard to follow the pattern, to make your life and family as it was supposed to have been, and it all fell apart. Poisoned again by alcohol. How could it happen?! It’s just not fair!

Then I wondered… What part did you play in the disintegration of your just-so life? How did the brokenness that was created in childhood inform the corruption of what should have been? I have been through this exercise myself and have found many threads of infection and how they metastasized. Have you done the same? If how you have treated me is any indication then the conclusions are pretty obvious. I can’t help but wonder, is this your true nature? I don’t think so. I think you have wandered so far away from it, drawn by the false construct of just-so.

I love the movie Mary Poppins. Watching reminded me of something in my own true nature: the scene with the bird woman and the song Feed the Birds resonates so strongly within me. It did when I was seven and it still does. My true nature: caring, simple, kind-hearted. How we have both complicated everything by our brokenness, it’s just sad. And I see how that pervasive sadness helps make me who I am. I do not resent it but embrace it.

What I wish for you is the same discovery of perspective of what-is versus just-so and your role in the wreckage of it. Own who you are and have been and think, THINK, about who you wish to become, pointing at finding and embracing your true nature. Maybe I am just projecting, but I see sensitivity and kindness in you. Now, this is so diametrically opposed to how you have treated me but I refuse to believe it. I want to think the best of you even when the evidence shows otherwise. It is my nature… I guess that my great frustration is not knowing if I’m right about you. My intuition tells me one thing but your behavior tells another. And my need to know will not, it seems, be fulfilled.

Mourn the Just-so but don’t dwell on it. It’s gone. Honor it by examining how it has made you who you are and if there are aspects you don’t like (“I’m a shitty friend”) then do better. Take risks, push the envelope, be vulnerable. Use that fine mind God gave you and take a long look at yourself. I hope you see what I do…

Xxoo

All this noise!

There’s two kinds: the internal and the external. The external is obvious, the internal not so much. And of course I’m interested in the latter 🙂 I have to note that one of my favorite sounds is actually the absence of sound – quiet – and what it’s like. Not the sound or lack thereof but the experience of it. A heavy snowfall, being alone in the wilderness far from the noise of light and sound. Favorites!

But what of the internal noise? Do you even hear it? It’s there, most all the time. Your thinking and feeling (emotional response to information.) And it’s all fine and dandy until it isn’t. The stories we tell ourselves… and believe. While this is a whole ‘nother post topic it has its roots here. Minal is insisting I write a book on the stories as a self-awareness project for our Atlanta DBT patients. Geez, I say one little thing and she goes nuts. Ah well, that’s the way of it.

I offered one of my students (not a patient per se – I don’t really like that term) the nickname of “Bose” as the topic of noise is a common one. Those damned stories… So I looked into how noise cancelling headphones work, and with the support of my QM professor I found the idea relatable to our internal noise.

Basically, active noise cancellation is via the sampling of frequencies in the environment and then creating offsetting ones, effectively cancelling out the noise. Higher and lower frequencies are either blocked by the material of the headphones or are below our normal threshold of awareness, so it is the midrange that is primarily cancelled out.

As we can’t create an actual internal active filter that will precisely offset unwanted frequencies (thoughts and emotions) we have to sort out how to get close enough so that the effect of cancellation is effective to whatever degree it is. There will always be leakage so to speak.

I really am a huge fan of Daniela Schiller’s work on re-writing (posted on previously) and I’m of the opinion that this is in fact an example of noise cancellation. The horror of a memory can be offset by a parallel memory that is not horror. Not entirely but maybe close enough. This respects both sides of memory as we are not trying to block the horror, just put it in its place. Attenuating the frequencies.

Sometimes you just need to turn your attention away from one thing (or thought) towards another. The energy of attention can be leveraged to creating a different state of mind. If you find yourself depressed, notice the thoughts and judgments that are controlling your mind and go do something! Anything. I just went and washed my car, vacuumed out the inside and did a quick detail of the interior. Crappy state of mind dampened if not eliminated!

When turning your mind (attention) or at least trying to, sometimes the energy of the unwanted pattern can be startling. That’s when the object of attention needs to be compelling, or “sticky” as one student put it. When I am falling asleep I let my mind wander and sometimes it wanders where I do not want it to go. Okay, a lot of the time it wanders there. So I searched for something to hold my attention. “The Pirate”, a 12d finger crack didn’t do it (although it’s pretty compelling!) and neither did fly fishing. So let’s get weird and think about really stupid stuff like the toroidal nature of the human pattern… yep, that did it! The past informing the future (Hawking radiation? Sort of?) This has led to many other deeply weird and (in the opinion of some) stupid ideas. But they are compelling… And it works!

Long term it may not be possible to create nearly flawless offsets. Doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying, and who knows, you may find something new and really interesting to occupy your mind.

Beware of the patterns of this world. They’re infectious, insidious and if left unattended can lead to real despair. Don’t buy the propaganda, offset the noise.

It’s relative

“I know what time is, time is a thief. It’ll steal into bed and rob you while you sleep. And you’ll never see it.” Larkin Poe, Mad as a Hatter

I just like the song. Anyway, one of the many weird things I think about is time. What is it? Delmore Schwartz says “Time is the school in which we learn, time is the fire in which we burn.” Still doesn’t get there though does it?

I read an article recently (gotta buy the book!) by physicist Carlo Rovelli in which he claims that there is no such thing as time, that the past and future exist only in our minds.

Thinking about it I see how he is right: time is a construct we have created to bring order to existence, a framework for consciousness to operate in. Relativity is about the relative position and momentum of the observer. Who is the observer though? It is you, it is I. We through our existence allow time to exist.

Fun facts: the earth rotates at 1,000 miles per hour at the equator. We orbit around the sun at 67,000 mph. The solar system orbits the galaxy at 514,000 mph, and the galaxy runs around the universe at 1.4 million mph. But relative to what? To you! You are the observer and point of reference. As I have said before, the future is nothing more than a set of probabilities and the past nothing but facts. Or facts as we understand them. I was listening to a Tim Ferriss podcast where he said “I know it is true because I experienced it.” I had to push pause and consider. And I find fault. Dang… What is “true” is relative to our existing pattern of interpretation and meaning, the filters or lenses (pick your metaphor) through which we experience life. So therefore it does not make it “true”, it only means we experienced something. The experience is valid, the truth of it not so much.

So it is with time; we each experience it in our own way, as your thoughts and memories, your filters are different than mine. So is there some absolute reference point? Ah, the need for absolutes…

I have not read the book yet (I will I promise!) but intuitively and (from my understanding) there is only one absolute and that is the wave function. Probabilities exist and then something happens; the wave function collapses and whatever becomes real. It is real because “it” happened and is now a fact of the past.

If we put on the veil of ignorance – setting aside any preconceived ideas – about time, we (okay, geez, I do) have to consider what “now” is. It is the collapse of the wave function. so if all reality hinges on this it seems to me that there must be some sort of universal wave function that guides all others. The now that exists here in my office is the same now that exists 14 billion light years from here. It is independent of relativity as we discount the observer. In my notes I wrote “spacetime is a relative motion construct.” I also wrote a question: “Are space and time entangled both locally and universally?” Whatever that means. I was down a rabbit hole when I wrote that…

So oh boy and goody, fun things to think about, but what does it matter?! How is this useful at all in my life or yours? This is where I think it gets interesting. For the sake of the illustration I presume that both the present moment and the infinite are two sides of the same coin and both are abstractions – they only exist in math and not in our 3 dimensional physical reality. No not 4! Time does not exist, k?

If I or you can set this premise in stone and reconsider existence (again, for the sake of the illustration) then we can see how anxiety and depression are nothing more than extensions of our false construct of time and the pattern of our interpretation and meaning. You and I are entirely free to choose not to attend to them, knowing they are whatever we want them to be. Schiller’s rewriting shows that we can change our emotional response to the past by adding in new information. We can change our perspective and emotion about the future by first understanding that it is nothing more than a set of likely or unlikely outcomes that may or may not happen, and choose which to attend to, calling B.S. on our emotional mind’s insistence that whatever disaster might happen actually will.

We can learn to access the present moment with skill and practice. The present is all there really is. Rovelli calls the present an “event” and time is nothing more than a never ending string of events. Learn to turn to the “event” and see it for what it is, nothing more and nothing less.

It just takes time…

The depths…

As a follow-up to two previous posts (You are Missing From Me and The Beginning of the End of Learning) I think it’s safe to say I finally reached the end of that particular journey. I thought I had – how silly of me to presume such a thing! – but no, God had more lessons for me. I’m really slowwwwwwww it seems.

I have been judged so cruelly, rejected in such an incredibly painful way and yet I persisted. Why? I had not found the answer until recently. I found it after reading a seemingly random book, The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss. It’s a short story about an enigmatic character from his Kingkiller Chronicles series. The writing is so lyrical, so invocative; the sense of “proper-ness” was so pointed. To me anyway.

It prompted me to think about propriety, about doing things the right way. Why though? I ended up being confronted with the feeling that my sense of loyalty had been violated. This is terribly ironic as the cruelty that had been dumped on me was prompted by a perceived disloyalty. It was a shallow evaluation and entirely without merit, but there it was. “Twisted.” It hurts to even write that word. Not the point though. I had not been able to give up on this person as my sense of loyalty prevented it. And it became toxic to me. So I offered a suggestion via mail to find closure in a proper and fitting way. In doing so I honored the depth of the relationship (from my perspective anyway). Another irony is that I was trying to show respect. This too touches on the lens of judgment I was seen through. It makes me sick still to think about it. So I’m not going to after this.

I’m done. I’m so done I will not even mourn your loss of me. I have honored my values, and by doing so my self-respect is fully intact. Oh wait, one more thing then. I forgive you. There, now I feel better.

The bottom of the rabbit hole is nothing more than the realization that our values – those guiding principles that define who we really are – are truly discovered only through trial. So when you are going through something be looking for the underlying value, the lesson that reveals your best self. The pain is worth it.

When life is outa control

I love my students. I learn so much from them; they offer such novel ideas that I totally steal and mutilate, then pass on. Recently one mentioned that her life is “outa control!” which led to a conversation about what we can and can’t control. Physics demands that there is much (mostly all) that we can’t control. Just too many variables. So of course it got me thinking about what we can actually control. And here is what I came up with…

The three things in life that if you do not control them they will control you

  1. TIME. I am a time lord. Well, sort of. I do pretty much what I want when I want. Of course there are limitations (mostly financial) but I keep my own calendar and set my own schedule. As I am a slow learner I have to think back many years ago to a most amazing introduction. I met a guy whose business was buying up small businesses and optimizing them. He at the time owned I think like 42 different companies. How can one possibly do that?? Aside from his business acumen he did one thing: he took control of his calendar! He showed me his planner and it was fascinating. He literally had each day planned in detail, highlighted with different colors to indicate personal, business and family time. It was discipline at an extraordinary level (key word discipline!) He said that if someone wanted a meeting at say 10:30 on Tuesday he would (usually) say “I’m sorry, I have a previous commitment. I can speak with you for 15 minutes on Wednesday the __th at 3:15 pm at my office.” And if that didn’t work for you well too bad. He didn’t need the meeting, you did. What happened though is that he not only practiced the discipline, he also earned the right to via his success (also an expression of discipline.) As only a moderate tangent, the best voicemail message I ever heard was: “Hi, this is Doyle. Sorry I missed your call. If it’s important to you leave a message. If it’s important to me I’ll call you back.”  Hooee! I aspire to that level of obnoxiousness. Sort of…
  2. MONEY. If you don’t pay attention to your money it will wander off like a 5 year old at the park. I remember doing my taxes in like 2005 or something, and was aghast at the disparity between our income that year and what we had to show for it. WHERE DID IT GO?! Well, it wandered off. $50 here, $80 there. We gave generously to our church that year so that was something I suppose, but my wife wasn’t driving a Lexus, we hadn’t gone to Europe for vacation, and at that level of income that’s what folks do. Oh, and we ended up owing the gubmint a wee bit ‘o money… It sucked. I also recall working with a client years ago and hearing him complain that he was broke and couldn’t become who he wanted to be. So I had him give me 3 months worth of his bank statements and lo and behold he let it wander off, $1.19, $2.09 at a time (swipe swipe swipe of the card.) The only difference between he and I was where the decimal place was. And so it goes, the mindless swiping of the card whenever the mood or “need” strikes you, and off wanders your money. What to do? PAY ATTENTION! Saber and I teach the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University class and the principles are spot on. The “Baby Steps” are simple and achievable but require discipline (that pesky word again.) I strongly encourage you to take the class or at least read the book. The Every Dollar app is excellent: you take your take-home income and spend it all on paper. Tell it where it’s going! Use cash whenever possible, STOP SWIPING! And if you really want to have some fun, go to an on-line compound interest calculator (like https://www.investor.gov/additional-resources/free-financial-planning-tools/compound-interest-calculator) and play around with it. Your mind will be blown when you see how just a few hundred bucks a month can turn into millions over time. OVER TIME! Slow and steady is the way to get rich. Apologies to the impatient out there…
  3. ATTENTION. You go where you look. You feed what you pay attention to. I have held forth on this before so I won’t belabor the ways to do it. Suffice it to say that the intentional control of your attention is the most important discipline you can work on. The previous two will fall into line when you control what you pay attention to! The vast majority of people in the world have no sense of themselves outside their emotional awareness. Judgmental perhaps but the evidence is there. War, famine, greed, ignorance. All have their roots in the (childish) emotional mind. Fear, impatience, selfishness, the same. Socrates said “The unexamined life is not worth living.” One cannot examine their life and the patterns therein without the ability to control attention; the emotional mind will drag you off and stick your head in a bucket of suck (the propaganda of the mind) and you won’t learn anything. Anxiety and depression are notorious life-sucks, but with skillful teaching and practice you can literally turn your mind away from them. With all due respect to those who suffer, oftentimes medication is necessary to get you off dead center and maybe even keep you on track long term. They are serious problems and I don’t want to invalidate the experience of them.

All of these elements of control have one thing in common: discipline. I think discipline can be learned, and it doesn’t take a drill sergeant to teach it. You have to know why you’re doing it. Identify your why and you have made a good start. Sick of being broke? Start by learning the basics. Sick of being a slave to others? Get a planner. Sick of being “sick”? Practice mindfulness.

Consistent effort over time equals behavioral change. It’s an equation 🙂 Take charge of these things and you are well on your way to becoming a truly free human being.

 

How could God let ____ happen?

This question plagues both the believer and the non-believer. It is the go-to argument when someone wants to cast doubt or rebut our faith. It’s a fair question but as is often the case with such things a superficial one.

My answer is found of course in science, namely quantum mechanics. The wave equation (as described previously) is, as I see it, the mathematical representation of free will. A choice is made and all possible futures from the choice not taken cease to exist. The function collapses, something is “observed” and becomes real.

So imagine a point in time, then create a fork in the road so to speak, choice A and choice B. My faith and Scripture tell the story of such a choice. When God created the universe he used a set of rules which we know as physics. Everything in creation has to obey these rules, including people. So when God created choice – choose Me or the other thing (the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil) he was simply following the rules He created.

Choice A was His Way, and everything in it was perfect. There was no flaw, no branching of probabilities. Just perfect. And in perfection there was only more of the same; no flaws or “wobbles” existed. In choice B there were infinite probabilities. And none of them were perfect. Perfection only exists along the path of choice A.

Since choice B was obviously taken, now all manner of weirdness is possible. Instabilities now exist and as a result even more instabilities. A hurricane or tornado exists because of instabilities in the weather system. The worst of human behaviors exist because of instabilities in our genes, our pattern of thinking and feeling and our neurochemistry. “Unhappiness” and suffering exist for the same reason. There can be no perfection or stability, yet we look all around trying desperately to find it.

God made this world, the universe, perfectly. And the rules he put into place to let it run allowed for choice. We chose poorly. And God, knowing that choice B could be made at any time, had the solution prepared beforehand. This is Jesus Christ, God the Son. God loves all of His creation so much that if ever even ONE person chose B God was prepared for it and His plan to redeem that person back to Himself and His perfection. The expression for this is n-1, with n being the entire number of humans who have or ever will exist, and the 1 being the poor chooser.

There will be those who are offended by my journey into the non-secular. 2 responses: 1) Get over it, and 2) counter my argument. I am always open to the points of view of others. Why? Because I have spent a LOT of time thinking about this and so am quite comfortable and confident of my understanding. Folks who don’t do that, who are intellectually lazy and emotional children, just get offended when presented with an opinion that doesn’t match theirs. I call these people Wainwrights…

Don’t be a Wainwright, make a good comment.090404-farside-wolves

Propaganda

“A lie told long enough is accepted as truth.” Lenin

The key to really great propaganda is to have a grain of truth, a thread that leads back from the lie to some minuscule fact. Whether in politics or the emotional mind propaganda is everywhere.

Post hoc ergo propter hoc, or false cause, is a well known logical fallacy, yet its prevalence continues unabated. Why? Because (in my humble opinion of course) we as a country have become intellectually and emotionally lazy; we are not taught critical thinking or informal logic anymore and the effects have become devastating.

It is the adolescentization of America…

Guns, immigration, race, gender; the list is becoming endless, and only serves to divide us, to create a rift between people that is based on propaganda. I heard someone the other day talking about how it is sexist for a man to be “giving orders to a woman”. The woman being Siri or Alexa… It creates an atmosphere of gender inequality. Or some such crap as that. When I was a kid the Roadrunner and Wyle E. Coyote battled it out every week on Saturday morning, yet no warnings or disclaimers of “do not try this at home” were necessary. Why? Because we were not idiots. Because there was no YouTube or Instagram for our idiocy to turn viral and other idiots following suit.

Another delightful perspective, also with respect to gender, came from an article in the New York Times. The author, a self-proclaimed heterosexual male, decried the use of gender pronouns (he, she, him, her etc) and called for a wholesale revamping of the language to eliminate these bias-producing terms and replace them with “neutral” identifiers such as “they.” This attempt – and people are buying this crap – is nothing less than the devolution of our language, culture and humanity.

Up here in the foothills of the Appalachians we view the changes in culture with a rather guarded and skeptical eye. This doesn’t always work in our favor; we too often remain intentionally ignorant, holding onto the old ways. We label y’all “citiots” (or at least I do, having thought up that word on my journey to the Big Town this morning…)

There is value is civil discourse but that value has been propagandized into near-extinction, just as logic and reason have. I mourn for this country.

We propagandize ourselves as well. Our emotional mind takes a grain of truth and turns up the volume, creating noise. “If I’m so smart why aren’t I rich?!” Grains of truth but no correlation to reality. A pattern is formed of believing the propaganda without checking the facts, without any critical thinking turned towards our own emotions and experience, We judge and are reinforced by our judgment. More fallacious thinking (confirmation bias.)

Check your premises, do your research. Be truly informed so you can make an actual argument. Stop buying what the world and your own mind is selling. It’s propaganda.

You are missing from me

I read somewhere that the phrase “I miss you” is inadequate. It is, and also inaccurate. In French (so the story goes) the sentiment is more accurately said “you are missing from me.” Much more expressive of the feeling.

Recently a dear friend, one of my “first circle”, went missing from my life. And I am devastated. It is not that I miss her, it that she is missing from me. My life is incomplete without her in it. There is a hollowness that is beyond sadness, and compounding this loss is my role in it. I went too deep too fast, not allowing for her woundedness as a barrier to receiving my love.

I had to examine my part in this disaster. And what I discovered disturbs me… Beck said I am “missing a sensitivity chip.” She was right of course; being a minor Aspy can do that. She had told me when we reconnected that her ex-husband had died not to long ago and that one of her children had also died. Both from alcoholism. The sorrow I felt completely overwhelmed the reality she experienced. When we talked it was pretty much the second anniversary of her daughter’s death, and her ex had only died less than 3 months before. While he had been awful to her and she had divorced him several years before, 35 years of marriage is not so easily dismissed. Yet I did; my emotions came to the forefront, disrespecting the depth of hers. So incredibly insensitive. She then went on to use more cruel descriptives of me, which I did not deserve, but I can understand how she would feel this way. And now she is missing from me.

It occurs to me that unconditional love is without expectations, conditions or attachments to what is received from the object of our love; we love because it is what we do. I noticed this when my granddog Teddy was over. I hold Teddy and just love on him, and what I get back is a perfect reflection of what I am pouring out. My friend has a lovely dog (who liked me when we met, apparently unusual but I’m not surprised) and she can love her dog in just that way but I don’t think she has made the connection between that feeling of unconditional love for her dog and what I am offering to her, which is exactly the same thing. And it is frustrating beyond words.

As I have mentioned before, love is a state of mind, an inside-out existence that transcends the common, worldly notion that it must be reciprocated in kind, or that sex is a necessary component of the deepest relationships.

To love another person unconditionally is a rare and precious experience; too often it is tainted or filtered by attachments. What a shame, and such a loss for both of us.

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